The legal part - How to get married in New Zealand

Photo: Christina Jade Photography
Photo: Christina Jade Photography

As you go through the pros and cons of indoor vs outdoor ceremony, tulle v chantilly lace, and buffet vs sit-down dinner, don't forget what the big day is really all about - signing that bit of paper.

There are two ways to get married or have a civil union in New Zealand:

By a registered marriage celebrant
You can choose:
- when and where you’ll get married
- to write your own vows
- a religious or independent celebrant
- you can find a celebrant by visiting
- only registered celebrants can perform weddings or civil unions in New Zealand. You will need to arrange your celebrant before you can get a marriage licence
- the cost of a celebrant varies, how much they charge is up to them In a registry office

Registry office ceremonies:
- are held during normal office hours
- use standard vows, and you can’t customise the ceremony
- how many guests you can invite to the ceremony depends on the office you’re getting married in
- you will need to bring at least two witnesses
- it costs $173.70 to get married at a registry office, including the cost of the marriage licence
(If you’re getting married at a registry office, you will be married by a Registrar of Marriages − you don’t need to find your own celebrant.)


You have to arrange a marriage licence at least three working days before you want to get married. If you’re being married by a celebrant, you’ll need their name and the location and approximate date of the wedding when you apply.


Your celebrant or the registry office will register your marriage and give you a “copy of particulars
of marriage”.


If you need to show anyone legal proof of your marriage, you can order a marriage certificate. It costs $26.50 to have one sent to you. It will show: your full names, your dates and places of birth, your occupations, your home address when you got married, your parents’ full names, the date and place you were married.


If you want to change your last name after you’re married, you don’t have to do anything special, but some places like banks or government agencies might ask to see a copy of particulars or marriage certificate.


Demand for wedding celebrants is high − avoid disappointment and book yours early. As with most things, the good ones can be booked out a year in advance due to limited weekends during “wedding season”.


Jetting off overseas for your wedding?

Don’t worry, most overseas marriages are valid in New Zealand. You usually don’t need to do anything in New Zealand beforehand, but check with the country’s officials if you need to do anything there. Your marriage will be registered in the country where it takes place − you don’t need to register it here.


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